Criminal Justice in Nova Scotia: One Size Does Not Fit All

Course delivered in the Fall 2021 semester of the Seniors’ College Association of Nova Scotia

Course description: The criminal justice system has struggled to deal with matters whose root causes are linked to poverty, marginalization, mental health and addiction issues. In recent years, Nova Scotia and other Canadian jurisdictions have developed ‘wellness’ courts and programs as a means of addressing the revolving door for vulnerable individuals in the traditional justice system. This course introduced participants to these ‘wellness courts’ and programs – explored the reasons for their creation, how they work and what the outcomes have been. The course was delivered by those who are involved in these courts: judges, Crown and defence lawyers and community program personnel.

The Seniors’ College Association of Nova Scotia (SCANS) is a volunteer-based, registered non-profit organization which provides affordable, non-credit academic courses to seniors across Nova Scotia. We are grateful to SCANS for granting permission to the NSCJA to post the lecture recordings on our website.

Session One: Wellness courts – an overview

This session explored the development of wellness courts in Nova Scotia and why they are now an integral part of the criminal justice (court) system. The three programs under the wellness court umbrella (Mental Health Court Program, Drug Court Program and Alcohol Court Program) are described – their roles, teams and results.

Speaker: Pamela S Williams, Chief Judge of the Nova Scotia Provincial Court